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Navy Pilot Faces Felony Criminal Charges for Communication with 13-year-old Girl

by J.D. Garrett on November 22, 2013

Internet_Sex_CrimesUsing the internet to communicate with other people may seem like harmless fun. However, when a person uses the internet to communicate in a sexual manner with a child, he or she may face criminal charges or, if he or she meets that child, charges for sexual assault. Virginia law prohibits adults from using computers to communicate with children in order to coax them into certain sexual acts. A Navy pilot stationed in Virginia Beach found this out the hard way this week when he was arrested on such charges.

Daniel Chase Harris is accused of communicating with a 13-year-old girl from Bedford County over the internet. At some point, Harris allegedly threatened the young girl in order to get her to send him pictures of herself that were sexual in nature. Harris is alleged to have been in an online relationship with the 13-year-old girl before he coerced her into sending him the sexually explicit photographs.

According to reports, Harris was investigated by the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia Beach Police Department, as well as the Navy’s criminal investigation services unit and members of the group known as the Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  The units were able to obtain a search warrant and searched Harris’ home. At the home, authorities were able to seize enough evidence to arrest Harris and take him into police custody.

Harris’ fate is still pending. He is currently being held without bond and will be transferred from Virginia Beach to the Bedford Adult Detention Center. Before Harris found himself facing multiple counts of using an electronic device to facilitate offenses against children and extortion charges, he had a bright future ahead of him as an active-duty pilot.

Virginia Internet Sex Crimes Law

Virginia criminal laws outlaw a host of activity related to the internet. One such crimes relating to communicating with minors by using the internet is the use of communications systems to facilitate certain offenses involving children, which is a form of solicitation. Under Code of Virginia 18.2-374.3, a person who is 18-years-old or older is guilty of committing the crime when he or she knowingly and intentionally uses a communications system, like the internet, to solicit a child to expose his or her genitals or to propose as much; propose that the child fondle his or her genitals, or that he or she fondle the child’s genitals; propose having sex with the child; or invite or entice the child to enter a vehicle, house, room, or other place for any of the purposes listed. Use of communications systems to facilitate certain offense involving children is a Class 5 felony. However, in the case that the offender is seven or more years older than the child, and has reason to believe that child is under 15-years-old, the offender must be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of between 5 and 30 years.

When an adult seeks out a young child over the internet and solicits sexual activities or pictures, he or she may face serious felony charges under Virginia criminal laws. If you have been charged with violating Virginia criminal laws, you should immediately speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact a defense attorney at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.

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